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A collection of current topics, news, and press.

“A Special Day to Grow Jobs” City of Bluefield receives $2 million grant for Commercialization Station

By Charlie Booth Bluefield Daily Telegraph

jenkinsBLUEFIELD — The City of Bluefield is receiving a $2,040,000 grant for its Commercialization Station on Bluefield Avenue.

Rep. Evan Jenkins (3rd District) joined city officials and others Thursday afternoon to make the announcement at the station, located in the former headquarters of the Bluefield Regional Transit Authority.

What a great day to be in Bluefield,” he said. “This is a special day to grow jobs.”

A matching grant of more than $500,000 will be included from the Shott Foundation, he added.

The $2 million grant is through the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) with funding that was included in the POWER initiative, a strategy to help communities struggling to cope with the impact of the loss of coal-related jobs.

Jenkins is on the appropriations committee, which earmarks which agencies receive those federal dollars. He said he works closely with the EDA and thanked the agency for providing the funding.

Jenkins said job creation is the goal of the station, a business incubator aimed at helping entrepreneurs.

Good jobs solve a lot of problems,” he said.

Jenkins said the station project, which was spearheaded by the city’s community and economic development director, Jim Spencer, took a vision then put the “pieces of the puzzle into place.”

We always want to be a partner with you in these efforts,” he said. “Let’s make an investment, and this is what it is. Thank you for allowing me to work with you.”

Jenkins said Mercer County, like many counties in this region, has “taken it on the chin (in economic woes),” and it takes local officials having a “clear vision” and working together to make it happen.

You are all awesome,” he said, also praising the Shott Foundation. “It’s an honor to work with you. We will work with you every step of the way.”

Del. John Shott, with the Shott Foundation, said the grant may be historic.

I can’t ever recall a day when we had an amount like this coming to Bluefield,” he said. “The spigot (of federal dollars) has finally opened for us.”

Shott pointed out three other foundation board members in attendance, Frank Wilkinson, Chandler Swope and Smokey Shott. “We are all really excited about this,” he said.

Bluefield Mayor Tom Cole could not attend the announcement but through a precorded video said Spencer started working on this project right after he was hired last year, and found the space and pursued the funding.

We are excited about the opportunities this brings to our region,” he said.

Bluefield City Manager Dane Rideout said the station project was the “brainchild” of Spencer.

This is a homerun,” he said of the grants, adding that it took a vision followed up with action. “That’s powerful.”

This is not about a single entity,” he said. “It’s about a partnership. This will train people (and provide jobs) so they can stay here. This is absolutely phenomenal.”

Spencer also emphasized that partnership.

Economic development is a team sport,” he said, calling Jenkins “our D.C. champion.”

Spencer said many partners are involved in helping not only bring the station to fruition, but to provide the resources necessary to make it work.

Those partners include the Center for Applied Research & Technology (CART), Bluefield State College, TechConnect West Virginia, Concord University, American National University, AEP, Mercer County Technical Education Center, the Development Authority of the Great Bluefield Area, the Robert C. Byrd Institute, E.L. Robinson Engineering and others.

It’s all of us working together,” he said, urging those in attendance to speak about the station to anyone having a business idea.

It’s a manufacturing and technology center,” he said, with the overall purpose of moving ideas and innovations into the marketplace.

One start-up business, Autonomous Radio Controlled Equipment, is already operational inside of the center.

The announcement took place in a large bay, and Spencer said three other bays at the station are available.

We want to fill them up as soon as possible,” he said, adding that anyone can visit the website mybluefied.org to learn the details of how to get started and possibly locating a business in the center.

An incubation application is included on that website.

Spencer said services provided by all of the partners involved in the station include incubation, office and production space, business networking, grant assistance, business coaching, funding, incentives, workforce training, manufacturing processes, technical support, business planning and entrepreneurship training.

Spencer said the money will be used for electrical upgrades, lighting, doors and other improvements to the 60,000-sq.-ft. structure.

Communities cannot sit back and do nothing about creating jobs, he added.

We need to be aggressive in economic development,” he said. “This is a great day.”

Contact Charles Boothe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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City of Bluefield awarded $2 million grant for business incubator

By Frances Peyton, WVVA Multimedia Journalist

City of Bluefield awarded 2 million grant for business incubator

A boost for economic development was announced on Thursday at the Commercialization Station in Bluefield, WV.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins teamed-up with local leaders to present a $2,040,000 grant to create an incubator for manufacturing companies.

"People just need a place to get started and we are creating that opportunity," says U.S. Rep Evan Jenkins.

Bluefield Economic Director Jim Spencer explains what this means for the community.

“It's almost like when a child is learning to ride a bicycle. Our incubator is just the same principle. To support small business tied to manufacturing and technology until they are ready to move out to their own facilities. So we want to grow jobs here,” says Spencer.

If you're a small business owner or someone with a great idea looking to get off the ground, visit the website mybluefield.org. Navigate to the business section, click on the tab that reads“Commercialization Station,” and fill out an application.
Joining leaders & neighbors in Bluefield to celebrate a $2M EDA grant for the Commercialization Center. pic.twitter.com/5uUvzwtRaC
— Rep. Evan Jenkins (@RepEvanJenkins) October 20, 2016

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More Than 2 Million Dollar Grant Announced For Commercialization Station In Bluefield

By Tiffany Harris

More Than 2 Million Dollar Grant Announced For Commercialization Station In BluefieldIn Mercer County, the city of Bluefield was given a grant from the Economic Development Administration on Thursday October 20, 2016 to help the Commercialization Station on Bluefield Avenue.  That station is designed to help grow small manufacturing businesses.  U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins announced the $2,040,000 grant from the EDA.  It was coupled with a $510,000 grant from the Shott Foundation.  The grant is going towards renovating the Commercialization Station.  

Community and Economic Development Director Jim Spencer said, "This incubator can serve any business in the region.  It's not just about businesses within the city. It's about the region. We're in this together. Economic development is a team sport. We got a group of partners that will try to help them be successful. We want to support them."

The building was vacant for about 4 or 5 years.  It will have 5 bays and it will be able to serve 5 businesses at once.  It also used to house the Bluefield Transit Authority.

Dan Shortridge is a member of the Development Authority of Greater Bluefield.  He thinks this is a great opportunity for Bluefield.  Shortridge said, "Someone can bring their existing idea and in an environment that is a factory type environment. They can grow their business by building, by creating it."

Spencer hopes the renovations will begin by this winter.  Anyone interested in applying as an incubator business can go to mybluefield.org.

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Bluefield Commercialization Center awarded $2 million POWER grant

By CHARLIE BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Bluefield Commercialization Center awarded 2 million POWER grant

BLUFIELD — The city of Bluefield has received a $2,040,000 grant for its Commercialization Station on Bluefield Avenue.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., joined city officials Thursday afternoon to make the announcement at the station.
A matching grant of more than $500,000 will be included from the Shott Foundation.

The $2 million grant is through the POWER initiative grant program that was part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to help communities struggling with the impact of the loss of coal-related jobs to recover.

Jenkins said job creation is the goal of the business incubator aimed at entrepreneurs.

“Good jobs solve a lot of problems,” he said, praising city officials, other partners in the endeavor and Jim Spencer, the city’s economic development director.

Spencer said the money will be used to renovate the station, which is housed in the former headquarters of the Bluefield Transit Authority.

“This is a homerun,” City Manager Dane Rideout said of the grants. “This is absolutely phenomenal.”

Contact Charles Boothe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Dozens attend local business workshop

BLUEFIELD —Bluefield’s community and economic development coordinator Jim Spencer was looking for a few good entrepreneurs, andhe found more than a few.

Thirty-six local residents showed up at an interactive workshop Thursday at the Clover Club (in The RailYard) on Raleigh Street to learn all about starting a business, and boosting an existing one.

“I was thrilled with the turnout,” Spencer said. “About half of those attending have a start-up business or are in the process of starting one. The other half already have a business. We had a diverse group.”

The workshop offered plenty for both, he said, offering information from Jim Flowers, executive

director of VT KnowledgeWorks, a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, as well as other presentations.

“He did a great job,” Spencer said of Flowers, adding that after the meeting he took a few who attended to tour the city’s Commercialization Station, an old freight station on Bluefield Avenue that has been transformed into a small-business incubator.

“Now is the time to be aggressive” in economic development, he said, and the city must be progressive in creating jobs and not be complacent.

That’s one reason Spencer is also planning a similar workshop for high school students.

“My next goal is to host a class in partnership with Virginia Tech for high school students,” he said. “We’ve waited too long to talk to them about” business and entrepreneurship and exposing them earlier can help guide them in that direction.

If the workshop is as effective as the one Thursday, entrepreneur Suzanne Peery said a lot of solid information can be learned.

She was one of the 36 who attended the workshop and is owner of Blue Mountain Apothecary in Downtown Bluefield on Federal Street.

“It was good,” she said. “I got a lot of information.”

Peery said she started her own business recently and is working on an accounting and marketing degree from Bluefield State College. But the workshop offered her help, and some insight.

“I felt validated,” she said, referring to her business goals. “I met people I think I can work with.”

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CART: ingenuity to industry

c iconFrom applied research to technology transfer and training, unmanned systems to rapid prototyping, software development to program support and web solutions, CART transports the energy of ingenuity to the industries that power the world.